The Bride in Black is one of Insidious' most iconic ghosts but what is the backstory of the malicious spirit? Director James Wan broke out due to the surprise success of his low-budget debut Saw, which was originally intended as a straight to video release. While Saw is credited with kicking off a cycle of films focused on torture, the original movie is more of a tense thriller with little in the way of overt gore.
Wan had no interest in directing Saw 2, so he worked on an original horror movie with Dead Silence instead. While this killer puppet movie was undeniable stylish and eerie, it failed to catch on in the same way as Saw. His next movie was bleak vigilante thriller Death Sentence, which starred Kevin Bacon and John Goodman. The movie was based on the sequel novel to Death Wish, but despite good reviews, it was another box-office disappointment. Wan decided to reteam with Saw writing partner Leigh Whannell to make Insidious, another low-budget horror movie that would focus on suspense instead of violence.
Insidious was a huge success for Blumhouse, whose low-budget model was starting to catch on following the success of the Paranormal Activity series. Wan returned to direct Insidious: Chapter 2 while Whannell directed Insidious: Chapter 3. The original movie focuses on a boy named Dalton who falls into a coma when his spirit becomes trapped in another dimension, and it's up to his father Josh (Patrick Wilson) to enter this plane and rescue him. It turns out Dalton has inherited Josh's ability to astral project, and Josh had been tormented as a boy by an evil spirit called the Bride In Black.
In the finale of Insidious, Josh rescued Dalton from The Further, only for psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) to realize the Bride In Black has possessed him. In the first movie, this ghost is more of an ominous, background threat but Insidious: Chapter 2 greatly fleshed out this spirit's backstory. It's revealed that in life the Bride In Black was a serial killer known as Parker Crane. Parker was tormented by his mother growing up who forced him to dress as a girl, and years of psychological abuse would turn Parker into a killer.
He would kill several young women whilst wearing a black funeral dress and would be dubbed the Bride In Black by newspapers. Before his death, Parker encountered a young Josh and grew jealous of the warm relationship between the boy and his mother Lorraine. This is why Parker sought to possess and replace him when Josh was young, but decades after the Bride In Black was banished, the ghost reemerged when Dalton became lost in the Further. Parker finally got his wish to become Josh in Insidious: Chapter 2, but his strange behavior quickly led the family to realize Josh was trapped in the Further and Parker had taken his place.
Parker possessing Josh also led to accelerated aging, with his hair thinning and some of his teeth falling out. In the finale of the sequel, the Bride In Black is banished from Josh and Parker's tormented spirit is finally put to rest. Insidious: Chapter 3 is a prequel that revealed more of the personal history between Elise and the Bride In Black, with the latter holding a grudge against the psychic when she prevented the spirit possessing Josh as a child. The Bride In Black reappears throughout the story, vowing to strangle Elise. While part three ends with Elise alive and well, the ghost's vow would sadly come to pass by the end of the first Insidious.